PostHeaderIcon A New Generation of Farmers

plane 2As noted in a blog Post last week, anticipated increases in global populations will require an almost 100% increase in annual food production. It is highly unlikely that there will be any significant expansion in the amount of land dedicated to farming and thus there must be an increase (intensification) in food production per acre/hectare. Meeting this objective will require new ideas, technologies, and commitments by farmers to sustainable practices that will curtail and reverse the damage to soil, water, and air resources that have resulted from current management practices.

According to the 2007 Census of US Agriculture, less than 10% of all US farmers are younger than 45 years old. Where will the US find a new generation of farmers with the level of commitment and technical skills required to meet the global challenge of sustainably producing significantly more food? It looks like one excellent pool of talented individuals has been identified, and are being recruited and supported, the veterans of our Armed Forces.

The Farmer Veterans Coalition (FVC) is looking to help more than 1000 veterans join the agriculture workforce by the end of 2012. According to the FVC mission statement, “The coalition seeks to simultaneously assist the farming community by developing a new generation of farmers and to help our returning veterans find viable careers and means to heal on America’s farms.”

Over the past decade more than 2 million men and women have left the armed forces. Approximately 45% of them have strong ties to rural America. It’s a natural fit.

Veterans have been previously conditioned to sustain rigorous schedules and are educated and trained in the importance of developing many of the required skill sets such as multitasking and attention to detail. These are skill sets that successful farmers have always maintained and quite frequently had to teach themselves. Our veterans have also been exposed to modern communication and electronic technologies that will be required to operate our next generation of small to medium sized farms efficiently.

Meeting global food production challenges looks to be quite possible with this kind of talent in the fields. More information is available at the FVC website.

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Our Objectives

Increase local production and use of organic fertilizers and soil amendments.

Decrease the amount of fertilizers that enter our lakes, streams and waterways.

Decrease the amount of organic waste that is landfilled and combusted.

Decrease the amount of fossil fuels used to generate and transport fertilizers and soil amendments.

Fast Facts Municipal Waste

Why care? The US Environmental Protective Agency (EPA) estimates that 243 million tons of municipal waste was generated in 2009. This included 34 million tons of food scraps, 34 million tons of yard trimmings, and 85 million tons of wood and paper.

In 2009, we recovered the following amounts of material through recycling and composting:
62% of paper and paperboard
14% of wood
60% of yard trimmings
2.5% of kitchen waste

Fast Facts Organic Waste

There are more than 450,000 animal feeding operations (AFOs) in the US. Each year they generate more than 250 million tons of organic waste which if not handled properly contaminates local surface and subsurface water systems. Every day one cow generates 120 pounds of wet manure - an amount equivalent to 20-40 people.

The typical grocery store, restaurant, coffee shop, and food service location throws out more than 100 lbs of food and organic waste every day. The majority of this organic material ends up in the landfill.

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